THE SOLOMON SYSTEM by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


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Ted and Nory Solomon's parents decide to split up, and harrowingly can't agree which of them should move out--while, less convincingly, the close, mutually supportive relationship between Ted and Nory, 13 and 16, also seems to Ted to be crumbling. "The Solomon system," a neighbor's tag for that relationship, also has the Biblical link that you might suspect--involving one of those picturesque/wise Jewish grandmothers who are fast becoming a staple of juvenile fiction. The story: on the eve of leaving for camp, Ted and Nory learn that their mother intends to bring an end to family quarrels and silences by calling for a divorce; at camp, anxiously waiting for the shoe to drop, extrovert Ted finds introvert Nory not only uncommunicative, but actively pulling away from him (there's some rivalry about a girl, as well as lots of camp hijinks); when word does come, Nory erupts--"They're going to dump the decision on us. We decide who goes and who stays. The hell with that!" Ted plans survival-in-the-woods; Nory proceeds "to shut that little door in his head again." Faced with the boys' refusal to decide, their parents fight for days, then decide to split Ted and Nory up. Now comes Grandma Rose's talk about Solomon; Nory's swing-into-action--joint action; Ted's reproach to his parents ("We're a team. . . . Just because you aren't a team any more, don't try to split us up"); and the differently Solomonic decision that the parents will jointly rent an apartment, and take turns living there and in the house. That decision can be argued, and so can Naylor's over-weighting of the boys' relationship. (At 13 and 16, in a big house, why are they sharing a room? How many camps would put them in the same bunk? Etcetera.) But the teen-sibling angle on divorce comes across forcibly.
Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1983
ISBN: 068971128X
Page count: 210pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1983


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